It goes without saying that I will not be drinking the products of major corporate Super Bowl beer sponsors this coming weekend. Why? No matter how funny and cool their commercials - and I'll be marveling and laughing just like everyone else - they just don't taste good.
So what WILL I be drinking?
I did a lot of research this past weekend.
Courtesy North Coast Brewing Company
On Friday I had a bottle of Scrimshaw pilsner from North Coast Brewing Company. This is my current favorite pilsner. For people who might be interested in drinking non-corporate beer, but hesitate to stray too far into unfamiliar territory, this might be just the right choice. Bud, Miller, and Coors are lagers related to the pilsner styles developed in the Western Bohemian city of Plzen (in the Czech Republic) - in fact, the original "budweis" style comes from a Southern Bohemian city called Ceske Budejovice.
But, whereas the American version leaves a strong aftertaste of pencil shavings, Scrimshaw's taste leaves a lingering impression of golden fields of grain waving in a fresh breeze. My thanks to Jeff Musial of Wine Warehouse for bringing this worthy beer to our attention. You can find it now at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.
Eagle Rock Beer Landmarks: l. to r. Jeremy Raub of Eagle Rock Brewery; the
Oinkster, which always has at least 5 craft beers on tap, and others in bottles;
the Coffee Table's Eagle Rock Lounge has 12 craft beers on tap.
On Saturday I tasted Revolution XPA (extra pale ale) from Eagle Rock Brewery, Belgica IPA* from Great Divide Brewing, and Dunkel from TAPS Brewery in Brea, all at the Oinkster in Eagle Rock. Later, I and my posse ran across the street, dodging traffic, into the Coffee Table Bistro's Eagle Rock Lounge, where I went back to North Coast and enjoyed a pint of Old Rasputin* Imperial Stout: rich and complex with notes of coffee and chocolate, the perfect dessert beer. For Super Bowl watchers who aren't afraid to experiment, I'd have to go with the Belgica IPA. It somehow managed to be both yeast-forward, in the style of great Belgian beer, and hop-forward, in the style of great American craft beer.
Ojai Beverage Company features a full line-up of Island Brews.
On Sunday I visited Island Brewery in Carpinteria and drank Paradise Pale and Black Mamba*, their black IPA. Look for a separate report on this visit.
If I had to recommend just TWO beers for your Super Bowl enjoyment, I'd go with Scrimshaw and Paradise Pale.